The Kanifing General Hospital successfully launched a dedicated chest clinic capable of performing spirometry for the diagnosis and management of patients with respiratory diseases. This is a culmination of a concerted effort involving multiple stakeholders including the KGH, Medical Research Council, and the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare.
Dr. Ya Fatou B. M. Jobe who recently returned from the United States of America after successfully completing a CDC/NIOSH Spirometry Certification Course has been appointed at the Chest Clinic Lead and will oversee the clinic, performing spirometry alongside Dr. Baboucarr Sanyang, the Head of Department of Medicine at KGH and five other healthcare workers who also completed a Certification course in Spirometry co-sponsored and organized by the KGH, Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS), Medical Research Council and Sunkaru Touray, MD , MSc a Gambian Pulmonologist and Critical Care Specialist based in the United States of America.
Chronic respiratory diseases are a leading cause of death and disability globally and especially in sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 3.9 million deaths worldwide, mostly due to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which is now the third most common cause of death globally. Ninety percent of deaths from COPD occurs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) like the Gambia. Asthma is also a leading cause of disability, and death especially in younger patients and is responsible for a significant loss of economic productivity globally.
Accurate estimates of the burden of respiratory diseases are not fully defined in The Gambia due to a lack of trained personnel, equipment and technical support for spirometers. However, due to the widespread use of firewood, increasing prevalence of smoking, congestion, air pollution and the use of Electronic Nicotine Products (Vaping or E-cigarettes), the number of people suffering from lung diseases will likely increase the future.
Until now, there were no dedicated chest clinics capable of performing spirometry in public hospitals in Gambia which is why this is a laudable effort by the various stakeholders involved in this endeavor. The KGH CEO Mr. Kebba Manneh the hospital administrator Mr. Baboucarr Saine (a Mandela Washington Fellow) and the Hospital Board are to be commended for their leadership in healthcare.
The task for The Gambian government and Ministry of Health & Social Welfare in particular, is to sustain the operation of the Chest Clinic at Kanifing General Hospital and expand training opportunities at other hospitals including the Edwards Francis Small Teaching Hospital.
There is also a need to evaluate the standard of care for respiratory diseases in Gambia, and the availability of medications required for the management of patients with chronic respiratory conditions to ensure that these medications are affordable. With a supportive environment and constructive partnership with international institutions, it is possible for Gambia to begin to solve her own health problems by creating a critical mass of skilled healthcare professionals.